November 19, 2012 in Nation/World

In brief: Rig owner still looking for missing worker

From Wire Reports
 

NEW ORLEANS – The owner of an oil platform that caught fire after an explosion in the Gulf of Mexico last week said Sunday that it has expanded its search for a missing worker, and doctors said one of four men burned in the blaze is improving and is now in fair condition.

Two remained in critical condition and one in serious condition, doctors said.

Three dive boats are now working around the platform, and Plaquemines Parish sheriff’s deputies are checking beaches, Black Elk Energy of Houston said Sunday.

The body of a second missing worker was found Saturday and turned over to the Jefferson Parish coroner, added the company, which said it is cooperating with investigators.

The Philippine Embassy in Washington has said all the workers are from the Philippines.

The Coast Guard has suspended its own search after checking 1,400 square miles near the oil platform, located about 20 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La.

Parade route had been used for years

MIDLAND, Texas – Organizers of a parade in West Texas in which four U.S. military veterans were killed when a train plowed into a truck had been using the same route for three years, investigators said Sunday.

Investigators have said the truck began crossing the train tracks even though warning bells were sounding and lights were flashing.

However, some Midland residents said they believe the signal time is too short. They say the guardrails aren’t completely down by the time a train comes whizzing by.

“The signals come on and the arms go down, but before they are fully down, the train is already at the intersection,” said Mark Thomas, who lives blocks from the track and says he crosses it daily.

“These signal times are unacceptable,” Thomas added.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the warning system was activated 20 seconds before the accident, and the guardrail began to come down seven seconds after that. Everything functioned properly, spokesman Mark Rosekind said, but investigators will have to check to make sure the signal timing met the requirements for that particular crossing.

The truck was the second of two parade floats filled with wounded war veterans. The first float had already cleared the tracks when the accident happened. Four veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were killed and 16 more people were injured.

Killed were Marine Chief Warrant Officer 3 Gary Stouffer, 37; Army Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Boivin, 47; Army Sgt. Joshua Michael, 34; and Army Sgt. Maj. William Lubbers, 43.

San Francisco eyes public nudity ban

SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco may be getting ready to shed its image as a city where anything goes, including clothing.

City lawmakers are scheduled to vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would prohibit nudity in most public places, a blanket ban that represents an escalation of a two-year tiff between a devoted group of men who strut their stuff through the city’s famously gay Castro District and the supervisor who represents the area.

Supervisor Scott Wiener’s proposal would make it illegal for a person over the age of 5 to “expose his or her genitals, perineum or anal region on any public street, sidewalk, street median, parklet or plaza” or while using public transit.

“I don’t think having some guys taking their clothes off and hanging out seven days a week at Castro and Market Street is really what San Francisco is about. I think it’s a caricature of what San Francisco is about,” Wiener said.

The proposed ban predictably has produced outrage, as well as a lawsuit. Last week, about two dozen people disrobed in front of City Hall and marched around the block to the amusement of gawking tourists and high school students on a field trip.

Twinkies likely to survive Hostess’ end

DETROIT – Twinkie lovers, relax.

The cream-filled golden spongecakes are likely to survive, even though their maker will be sold in court.

Hostess Brands Inc., baker of Wonder Bread, Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, will be in a bankruptcy court today to start the process of selling itself.

The company, weighed down by debt, management turmoil, rising labor costs and the changing tastes of America, decided on Friday that it no longer could make it through a conventional Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring. Instead, it’s asking the New York court for permission to sell assets and go out of business.

But with high brand recognition and $2.5 billion in annual revenue, other companies are interested in bidding for at least pieces of Hostess.

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